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What I Would Say: A Music Creator Doing Music Business 

Written By: Tiffany Red

I've been creating music professionally since 2007. So that's currently 16 years I've been on this roller coaster. At 20, I chased my wildest dreams by venturing out to Los Angeles from Williamstown, New Jersey. Young Tiffany was so excited to be in the room. I went from writing songs in my parent's basement to the big leagues. Looking back, I realize that I could have better capitalized on my opportunities and negotiated all the deals I made harder, which would have altered the trajectory of my songwriting career. Numerous moments passed when I didn't comprehend what was happening around me, and my ignorance was preyed on. They'll say, "Hey, it's business," but we both know that's bullshit. You need to know how to handle that mindset because, unfortunately, it runs rampant in the music industry. So I'm writing this for you and a 20-year-old me who didn't know what she was doing. After all my experience, this is what I would say now.

How to Negotiate a Songwriter/ Producer Fee & a Session Fee:

Are you a songwriter or producer preparing for a negotiation with a label? Negotiating your worth can be intimidating, but ensuring you are adequately compensated and credited for your contributions is crucial for you and future music creators. And once you learn how to do it, it can be really empowering. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the negotiation process:​

  1. Determine your value: Before entering into negotiations, take some time to consider your value as a songwriter/producer. What skills, experience, and credibility do you bring to the table? Understanding your value allows you to negotiate a fee that accurately reflects your contributions.

  2. Research industry standards: Understanding the industry standards for songwriter/producer fees is essential. Look into what other creatives are paid for similar work and use that information as a benchmark for your negotiations.

  3. Figure out non-negotiables: What is the lowest number you will accept for your songwriter/producer fee? That's your floor. Try not to go below it. 

  4. Be flexible: While it's important to have a clear idea of what you want to be paid, it's also important to be flexible and open to compromise when negotiating. 

  5. Be willing to walk away: Sometimes, you have to be ready to walk away if you don't get what you know you deserve. Doing this can demonstrate your confidence and strength and may even lead the other party to offer better terms to keep you on board.

How to use your Clout in Negotiations:

Clout means power and influence that someone has based on their reputation, skills, connections, or resources. It's useful when negotiating deals because it can give you an advantage and help you get a better outcome. However, relying only on clout may only sometimes work, and other negotiation strategies are also essential. Successful negotiation requires good communication, strategic thinking, and sometimes compromise. Here are three tips on using clout in deal negotiations:


  1. Be confident and assertive: Your clout comes from your influence, reputation, or expertise in a particular field. It's important to be confident and assertive in negotiations, making it clear that you have something of value to offer.

  2. Use your network: Your clout can also come from your connections and network. Use your network to your advantage by seeking introductions or endorsements from influential people who can vouch for your abilities.

  3. Highlight your accomplishments: When negotiating a deal, highlight your past achievements and successes. This will help demonstrate your expertise and build credibility with the other party.

Response To An Artist Or Their Team Who Want To Work With You: 

Dear [Recipient],

Thank you for this exciting opportunity to work with you. I am thrilled to collaborate with you on your upcoming project. 

Regarding the budget for this project, I would like to inquire if you can accommodate a Session Fee of $___________  per day for my time and a Songwriter/Producer Fee of $___________ for any songs that I write/produce picked for this project. The quality of my work and my dedication will provide excellent value for these fees.

Once again, thank you for considering me for this opportunity. I look forward to working with you and contributing my skills and talents to the success of this project.

Best regards, [Your Name]


If the Artist of their Team sends a counter offer here's how you Counter back:

  1. Thank the client for the opportunity: Start by expressing gratitude for the opportunity to work with the client. This helps set a positive tone for the negotiation.

  2. Explain your reasons for the counter offer: Next, explain why you're requesting a higher fee. Be specific and provide evidence to support your request, such as your level of experience, the complexity of the project, or the value you will bring to the client.

  3. Offer a new fee or rate: Once you've explained your reasons for the counter offer, present a new fee or rate that you believe is fair and reflects the value of your services.

  4. Be open to compromise: While it's important to stand firm on your value, it's also important to be open to compromise. Consider offering additional services or reducing the scope of the project to help bring the fee closer to the client's budget.

  5. End on a positive note: End the message by expressing your willingness to work with the client to find a mutually agreeable solution. This helps maintain a positive relationship and keeps the door open for future collaboration.


Dear [Recipient],

Thank you for considering me for your project. I'm excited to work with you and your team.

After reviewing the project details, I believe my experience and skillset warrant a higher fee that accurately reflects the value I can bring to the project. While I appreciate the budget constraints, I would like to propose a counter offer for my songwriter/producer fee.

To provide specific reasons for my counter offer, I have [provided details such as my level of experience, expertise, or the complexity of the project].

Based on this, I propose a fee of [insert your counter offer fee]. I believe this fee accurately reflects the value of my services and is fair for both parties.

I look forward to hearing back from you and working together to find a mutually beneficial solution. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards, [Your Name]


After the Artist or their Team Agrees on the fees: 

Dear [Recipient],

I hope this message finds you well. Thank you for considering me as a valuable member of your project team. 

I have attached my session fee agreement for your review. This document outlines the terms and conditions for my services, including my fees and payment policies. Please look at the agreement and contact me with any questions you may have.

Once we have both executed the agreement, we can schedule our sessions. I am eager to begin working with you and excited to see what we can achieve together.

Thank you again for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Best regards, [Your Name]

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